Packard Bell : Dot S review

Photo of Packard Bell : Dot S
£199.99

Now that we’re living in a post-iPad 2 age where everyone seems to have gone tablet crazy, one wonders how much longer the humble netbook will continue to find favour, especially as the smallest notebooks are becoming increasingly more powerful, lighter and less expensive.

That said, Packard Bell’s Dot S makes every attempt to be appealing to the travelling businessperson or youngster on the go who wants to spend a lot of time in front of a webcam or social networking. It’s heavy enough (1.2 kg) to feel substantial, without feeling like you have gold bars in your rucksack or briefcase. At 24mm thick, the Dot S is designed to appear stylish rather than just functional.

Chic appearance

For a start, it comes in four slightly unusual colours – River Black, Perfume Pink, Mystery Purple, and Galaxy White – with a pattern on the cover and palm rest, resembling “raindrops running down a window”. So, its a bit chic in a subtle kind of way, but the plastic cover does feel a little flimsy compared to the much more solid base, and its sturdy hinges. There’s a 93% full-size keyboard with the ever popular chiclet style keys, which are thankfully slightly textured. Unfortunately, these are sandwiched so close together and keeping accuracy when writing at full pelt is quite a challenge.

The standard 10.1″ screen has LED backlit technology that means it’s bright enough for web browsing, YouTube videos and spreadsheets despite a relatively low-spec 1024 x 600 screen resolution where you will have to do a lot of Internet scrolling. In addition, you have three USB 2.0 ports for plugging in a mouse and some flash drives. There is also a VGA out, a 5-in-1 card reader so you can view your photo collection and Ethernet socket to link to a network, for use when you arrive at a remote office. Wi-Fi is also included as well as Bluetooth 3.0+HS, so there are plenty of options for connectivity

6-cell battery

The Dot S is powered by an Intel Atom N570 CPU, which is clocked at 1.66 GHz with 1GB of RAM. This does manage most basic projects with ease, but struggles at too much multitasking – which is about as punchy as it currently gets on the netbook market. Storage capacity runs to a 250GB hard drive. The pre-installed software is Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 (if you fancy some ambitious editing), along with a cut-down version of Microsoft Office (Word and Excel only) with Windows 7 Starter as the OS.

Packard Bell wisely decided to pack a chunky 6-cell Lithium Ion battery into the base that both stops the machine from tipping backwards, and ensures a healthy four hours minimum power life before recharging. The current price for the Dot S is around £200, which is good value for a basic lightweight portable PC.

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Company: Packard Bell

Website: http://www.packardbell.co.uk/

Contact: 0871 467 0008

Positives
  • Intel Atom N570 CPU and good battery life.
Negative
  • Keys too close together.

Verdict

Packard Bell has made a decent effort to create a stylish netbook that uses the most hard working CPU in this class, with an impressive battery life and plenty of connectivity but its let down by a too restrictive keyboard.